BY JULIUS MBARAGA
Only one game was played on the opening day of the 24th edition of the Afro basket Angola ‘07 between hosts Angola and Rwanda, no game was played yesterday, real action gets underway today with seven games on card.
After twenty-three editions of the Afrobasket/ African Cup of Nations competitions, Rwanda became the first country in the East African region to feature in the continental event. And as history makers, Rwanda was pitted to play hosts, Angola on the opening day, which also was the only game of the day as the 24th edition got underway in Angola on Wednesday.
With all the hype going Angola’s way following a rich competition history of a record eight Afrobasket/CAN titles, vast experience at the highest level, an exalted Fiba world ranking and home advantage, Rwanda was always going to be on the back-foot even the game started.
However, the visitors and far the underdogs got off to a pleasant start in the first two quarters taking a go at the reigning champions in almost every department but shooting, an area where Rwanda must improve going into crucial games against Morocco and Cape Verde.
In the first two quarters; Angola held a slim difference 27-14 and 56-36 before outscoring the visitors in the final two quarters; 83-58 and 109-66.
Rwanda’s Canada based Hamza Ruhezamihigo was the most outstanding three-point shooter of the game after converting five off eight attempts. The 22-year-old topped Rwanda’s scoring charts with 17 points; two assists and one steal despite sitting out the bulk of the fourth quarter after being fouled out.
Manix Aurianthal, Rwanda’s other shinning star on Wednesday night added 14 points with three assists, two rebounds and one steal. Robert Thomson, the first player to be fouled out in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter was far from his best tallied eight points and six rebounds.Eight-time champions and reigning holders Angola are likely stiff competition to retain their title from countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroon.
The competition that kicked off Wednesday, August 15 will climax on August 25.
Angola, Morocco, Cape Verde, Rwanda
Senegal, Egypt, Mali, Ivory Coast
Nigeria, Liberia, DRC, Central African Republic
Tunisia, Cameroon, Algeria, South Africa